Founded in 2015 as Blazing SEO, Rayobyte is now the largest U.S.-based proxy provider. 

“Rayo” refers to the largest conceivable finite number, while “byte” refers to a single unit of data storage. (We hope our readers already knew the second part.) We spoke with Isaac Coleman, VP of Marketing at Rayobyte, just as the company was launching three new proxy products. He still managed to take some time from that busy day to discuss proxy trends, the human touch, and the taste of vinegar.

EWDCI:Can you give us the elevator pitch for Rayobyte?

Isaac Coleman: Rayobyte aims to be the most customer forward proxy provider. Our ideal customer is someone who doesn’t really know about proxies and scraping that much, but they know that they need it. Scraping is the fuel of so much of the modern Internet. We hope to be the company that—through education and great customer service—we can really help that sort of customer, learn what web scraping is or what proxies are, and help them take advantage of that technology. Web Unblocker, which we’re launching today, is the epitome of that: it’s a combination proxy and scraping tool that our users can deploy with the touch of a button.

EWDCI:Your group uses language like “real people, real proxies” in your web presence. How does the idea of the person shape your products? 

IC: From the beginning, you know, one of the things that set us apart was that you could talk directly to our CEO: his email was just on the website. This is unusual in an industry where anonymity plays such a big role! This extends to our marketing as well, like a funny video we did a few years ago around the idea that proxies are so simple, I can answer any question about them in under 30 seconds. And if I don’t, I have to take a shot of vinegar. I got most of them right, but I had to drink that vinegar twice!  More seriously, though, when I got started at Rayobyte five years ago, there was no EWDCI and there wasn’t really as much of a conversation publicly about proxy ethics; and I love that our partners are stepping up to that.

[Note: you can see the Rayobyte vinegar video here.]

EWDCI:What do you wish more people understood about web scraping?

IC: Just how common it is—web scraping is the bedrock of the modern Internet. I think a lot of people don’t understand just how many products they use every day rely on huge amounts of data. I have a lot of friends who use Goodreads or Letterboxd , and social sites like that can only exist because they can scrape databases of movies and books. Everyone who is involved with search engine optimization, which is where I’ve got my start, is using scraping technology to scrape Google. There’s a perception that web scraping is “something bad people do,” because of all of the times when you hear about scraping in the news. Bad people absolutely use scraping, but every website you love probably uses scraping as well. It’s not this evil thing. I’d also add that if you’re not doing it, you’re being left behind because everybody else is using scraping to collect data. Though to be fair, I’m kind of incentivized to say that!

EWDCI: How have global events impacted your growth and service offerings in the last few years?

IC:We grew during COVID as a lot more businesses went online, and web data collection is such an important lifeblood of conducting business online. AI is of course the next big thing, but it hasn’t really affected us yet. We haven’t had many AI customers reaching out, but it’s thing that every data scraper is talking about right now: how will we support those customers when they come in?

EWDCI:Have certain scraping-API use cases become more popular recently?

IC: I would actually say that what has happened more recently, is more people finding uses for proxies outside of scraping, such as ad verification—which could be considered a form of scraping but it’s when you use a proxy geo located to another country to see what your ads look like to viewers abroad. This is because people are less trustworthy of a lot of the ad providers these days.  We also see it for email verification, which is a use case that people have to be very careful of, because we absolutely do not want people scraping emails, but people are using these tools to verify that their emails are getting sent correctly and not as being counted as spam.

EWDCI:Where does government policy interface with your work on a daily basis?

IC: We try to stay ahead of it by being very serious about legal compliance. We published a white paper recently on our site talking about our abuse policies 

EWDCI:Why did your team find it important to join the EWDCI?IC: We’re always trying to lead the charge on ethics, but this is something that cannot happen with only one company. We absolutely have to stand together and set the ethical standards that will help the entire industry grow. No one company, no matter how big or committed to the cause, can do that. It’s really only through solidarity that we are able to achieve what I want to see, which is that everyone knows what web scraping is and doesn’t just associate it with the bad guys.  I really think that joining the EWDCI has been a beautiful way to be involved in that.